Consent, Sexual Assault, and Rape Fantasies

November 4th, 2016

I’ve talked about this before, and I’m sure I’ll continue talking about it forever. I saw this article the other day: http://www.cracked.com/blog/how-men-are-trained-to-think-sexual-assault-no-big-deal/ and it was, IMHO, really well written. It talks about how the media shows male aggression as the path to love, it talks about the sexualization of women and their bodies, it talks about rapey movie heroes, and it even talks about the idea of the sin of extra-(or pre)marital sex making all sexual acts (outside a marriage) bad, regardless of consent. Honestly, this last part, is the basis of many of my school-girl fantasies – the idea of being a “naughty girl” (thanks, religious upbringing).

But let’s talk about the rest, too. The article was written about how men are trained, but women are watching the same things. We are being taught some of the same “lessons” about how relationships work. We are taught that aggressively strong men are sexy, that pushing our boundaries is what men do to get our attention and our love. We are taught that (sexual) violence is “just what men do” when they are interested in us. Either fighting each other, or pushing themselves on us, or playground bullying played off as affection. That our bodies are their rewards, but only if we’re beautiful, for whatever their definition of beautiful is. That strong men don’t ask permission, don’t ask for consent, they take.

And here’s where it gets complicated. I like that feeling – of being taken, of being prey to his predator. But here’s what’s NOT complicated – I only want to be taken by those I want to be taken by. I want them to ask for my Consent, I want them to make Me ask them, beg them. In many of those fantasies I write in my head while masturbating late at night – even my rape fantasies, when they’re longer than a quickie – the attacker makes me ask for it. I could write a few of those up, but I always find it strange to put them on paper, as though others would not understand. Because they are still rape fantasies, because forced consent is not really consent. But they’re my fantasies, dammit, they’re not real, they’re stories. Ah, cognitive dissonance. My schoolgirl fantasies, aside from the naughty part, the “teacher” always makes me ask for, or offer, the sexual favors. Always makes me say Yes, this is what I want. My partner likes to have me ask him to do things, tell him what I want. And it turns me on too – especially when I ask him to take me.

The difference between sexual assault and consensual sexual aggression is just that – Consent. Even in a relationship, even in a marriage, even in a swinger club – Consent is the difference between assault and fun. And not coerced, fearful, forced, or impaired consent. Eager, active, joyful consent.

Yes, I’d like a cup of tea now, thank you.

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This Body, This Thing

September 27th, 2015

This body, this thing. It is not who I am. I have hated it, fought it, loved it, ignored it, accepted it, objectified it, challenged it, pleased it, scolded it, pampered it, scratched it, coddled it, hid it, photographed it. Others have, too.

I am a girl. Society tells me all kinds of shit about this body. Hide it. Flaunt it. Work it. Feed it. Starve it. Clothe it. Disrobe it. Love it. Be ashamed of it. Use it. Offer it. Preserve it. Paint it. Drug it. Heal it. Abuse it. Fuck it.

I am a woman. This body, this thing. It makes me a target. For predators. For misogynists. For politicians. For entitled assholes. For those who think “she’s asking for it”, “she wants it”, “she doesn’t know what she wants.” And I’m told that it is my responsibility to stop them. Not their responsibility to stop themselves. I have to yell No loud enough. I have to fight them hard enough. Or else it is my fault.

I’ve never been raped, but I’ve been taken advantage of. This body, this thing has been used by those who didn’t ask first. Who I had not said yes to. Once, too young to understand. Later, I brushed it off – it’s not me, it’s just this body, this thing. Then I learned better.

So, I am a lot more guarded now. I am better aware of myself, my body, my sexuality. I stay away from those situations where I’m not in control. I speak up for myself, now. I am more careful about feeling obligated to touch or hug people. But mostly, I build walls, so they won’t think those things – “she wants it”, “she’s asking for it.” That makes it harder, though, when I do. Especially because I never want to be on the other side of the equation – assuming the other person wants it without them having explicitly said so.

This body, this thing – it matters. It is part of me. I do not have to use it to please others. It is my choice what I do with it. I am woman, I am human, I am afraid. But I will not let that fear control me. I will not let society make choices for me. This is My Body, My Thing, and I will do with it what pleases me.

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Good Posts by Other People

March 11th, 2015

Consent: Not actually that complicated

Most Women Won’t Let Men See the Most Magnetizing Thing About Us

 

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Frustration

July 12th, 2014

Mind is spinning on a lot of different topics. Topics I’ve talked about before, at length. Things happening that have happened before. I skimmed back through my blog, for previous posts to jump off from. But my thoughts aren’t organized. I’m looking back at Rape Culture Rant, Boundary Responsibility, and an article about Labeling Women as Crazy. I’m not even sure that these are the right places to start, so this might go a bit sideways. I didn’t find any posts about what I was looking for, because I didn’t post about it when it was happening. More on that below.

I’m frustrated again. And this time it isn’t My Community. It so far away, and it’s mostly people I don’t know. And there is nothing I can do about it. I sent a message of support, but I have no clue if it actually came across that way. No reply, but that’s not unusual. Things go wrong, things go badly, people react, people apologize, things are talked about, and people think it’s over. Then, years later, when memories have faded, or even warped. When things have been forgotten on one hand, and twisted on another. When someone pulls a trigger in a completely other direction, everything explodes again. There are witch hunts and badwagons, and everyone chooses sides. And there’s nothing I can do from here.

I recall being told, a couple years ago “that’s not the man I know.” I was glad for her, but worried, that she would come to know that man, in time. But I understand the phrase better now. The things I was reading, are certainly “not the man I know.” Granted there is time and space, but I feel like I know him just as well now as I did back when. And I found myself mentally dismissing women as crazy, and casting blame on them. But mostly just being frustrated that it was happening again.

I’m not one for public character attacks. For trial by internet forum. Yes, I’m a blogger, and I blog about my relationships, but I do my best not to attack or cast blame here, or try to solve problems by publically posting about them. I go and talk to people in person. I may post later about how problems were discussed or solved, but only after I’ve gone to the people involved and worked it out. Correct me, if I’m wrong, reader, but public smear campaigns tend to dirty everyone involved.

Okay, enough of that.

 

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Unfinished Conversation

December 26th, 2013

I had a conversation recently about boundaries. In certain venues, or after certain amounts of alcohol in other venues, I’m a fairly flirty person. Every now and then, there comes up the question of how far is too far? And a friend will ask if they’ve overstepped their bounds. Now, first things first, please know that if that happens, I am more than capable (these days) of saying so, and saying No. But, I thought I’d post an easy reference guide, for my flirting boundaries for friends.

      1. About the only verbal line I have is against actual and earnest propositions for sexual/kink activity (i.e. “Hey baby, let’s go upstairs and fuck.”) from those I’m not in a relationship with. Innuendo, teasing, sass, sarcasm, and jokes are all just fine.
      2. As far as touch, strangers stay hands off, acquaintances can ask for hugs, friends can go as far as kisses, cuddles, and massage, and really close friends can sometimes get away with ass grabbing and stroking clothed body parts (see below).
        • Hair grabbing, genital groping and extended making out are beyond the friends line.
        • Boobs are a case-by-case basis, but generally casual or teasing gropes are allowed, but serious squeezing/nipple pinching or extended fondling are not.
      3. If something is unclear – ask. Again, I know how to say No.

 

December has not been a great posting month for me. Looking forward to the new year and hoping things continue to move upward.

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Needs, Wants & Desires – Part 2

July 1st, 2013

My previous post talked about my needs, wants, and desires when I bottom in the scene. I also said that was the first way I would address them, so I suppose I should keep my end of the bargain and address them as a top, as well. I don’t top much, I service top for the show, so my needs, wants, and desires are probably much different from “regular” tops.

Needs. I need full and eager consent. If someone shows hesitation, or fear I talk to them gently, to find out if they really want to do it. If they seem to be being forced into the scene by a friend or partner, I will refuse. If someone is in a state that makes them incapable of giving consent (we work in bars), I will also refuse. If it’s a good friend, I will tease and poke, but never go forward without consent.

Wants. I want connection, an exchange of energy. I want to see them smile, or hear them moan. I want to see them writhe or wiggle or jump. I want to hear them giggle, or sigh. Bottoms who sit rigidly still and silent, who don’t even look like they are enjoying the scene, are hugely draining. It makes me wonder if they really wanted to be sitting in the chair at all.

Desires. What’s the cherry on top for a service top? That huge grin when I’m done. The, Oh my gods, that was wonderful! The thank you’s. The hugs. The requests to take me home. The appreciation of the bottom. Those first timers who come back again, and again, and again.

I mostly only top violet wand scenes, so my needs, wants, and desires are pretty simple from a top perspective.

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Burn It Down (in my mind)

May 9th, 2013

Itchy, twitchy, brain all messy. Linkin Park on the mind. It’s hot and work has been rough this week. Lots of heavy lifting and rearranging of entire sections of the store. I can’t get my brain to settle down to write. I posted a couple poems other people wrote on my other blog. I watched Gone in 60 Seconds with my dinner and fell asleep during the final car chase. Woke myself back up to blog and my brain doesn’t want to cooperate.

So, what am I up to these days? Let’s start there. I have completed my application for grad school in Library and Information Sciences. Just waiting on the last transcript to be processed. I’m still trying to edit my erotica anthology, but my friends’ lives are all super busy, so editing is bogged down. I’m transcribing my journals and printing out blog posts, to work on a long nonfiction piece about poly, D/s and S&M. And I’m looking for a library job and a new apartment, with W/D hookups.

What else? I had a really nice flogging scene with him last night. The space rules kept it from being an all out cathartic screaming breakdown of a scene. But I stood up well, breathed through, found some good space. When I sat down to clean up, I had a nice cry, and a snuggle and grin from him. My back is all pretty and tender today. Had some trouble when he went after my breasts, I couldn’t keep my hands behind my back, they were so tender. I was either grabbing at his hands or trying to cover my mouth. He brought me to tears just pinching down solidly on a nipple for a half a minute or so.

Having personal space issues. Don’t want to be touched unless I want to be touched, if that makes sense. I don’t usually have personal space, but with some people I do. People I don’t like, people who creep me out, people I don’t know, or people I’m having a problem with. It’s my body, I don’t have to let you touch it just because you want to. Ask.

Still haven’t decided about COPE. It seems an odd thing to be considering without a partner going. Why not just save the money for something else? I probably will, but I do have friends going, and the classes are fun, usually. I don’t even know who’s going to be presenting this fall. Wonder if they’ll announce any before ticket sales. Probably some of the names, I imagine. In a weird place in life. So much changing.

Busy month ahead. Hanging with friends this weekend for geekery and birthday party. Next weekend is FFF with a class on Rape Play, then an Izzard themed party. The weekend after that is camping. I haven’t gone camping since high school. Need a sleeping bag, still. And lots of early morning working on the weekdays. Wohooooo…

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Supplemental Reading

April 4th, 2013

I am low on spoons today: http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/wpress/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/. So, instead of writing a blog post, I’m going to link a few interesting articles for people to read.

About Same-Sex Marriage and Gender Roles: http://nursingclio.org/2013/04/02/same-sex-marriage-does-threaten-traditional-marriage/

About Silence and Consent: http://queerguesscode.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/un-memorizing-the-silence-is-sexy-date-script/

About Crying Rape: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/mar/31/truth-about-women-crying-rape

Feel free to discuss in the comments, here or there.

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Rape Culture Rant

October 11th, 2012

Some unusual (for me) conversations this week. It started on Monday, when I was accused of making light of rape culture and slut shaming because I was joking about my rape fantasies. Having never heard the term “slut shaming,” I gave the person opportunity to explain it to me, and after a bit of agreeing that society is full of stupid people, we let the matter drop. Tuesday there was a discussion about the differences in age of consent and what actually qualifies as statutory rape, and the double standard between men and women. Yesterday, there were conversations about gender inequality, repression of women, sexism and dressing sexy. I say unusual conversations, because I’m not a particularly politically active person. These are not the types of discussions I normally get into, I’m not a great debater of social issues. I generally think society can go fuck itself, and I stick to having friends who are not idiots. But with all the discussions, and some of the stupidity this week, I am feeling a bit ranty.

Let me start at the top and work my way down. I tend to avoid discussing rape fantasies in public. The horrible reality of rape is a dividing line for many people. Some of us have the fantasies, others find it unthinkable. For me, it took me a long time to admit to having the fantasies. It felt shameful, wrong and terribly inappropriate. But they were there, from my earliest fantasizing, they’ve always been there. To deny them, is to deny a part of myself. Coming to be a part of this community, has involved a lot of getting to know myself and getting comfortable with myself. Learning to stop denying who I am and what I like. And I still find it hard to admit at times. But Monday, I felt I was in a safe place, and was a little offended by the accusation that I didn’t take the issues of rape culture and slut shaming seriously just because I was talking about my rape fantasies. They are power exchange fantasies, not an actual desire to be violently violated by a stranger. And certainly nothing that supports sexual violence against anyone.

So, let’s move on to those things. UpsettingRapeCulture.com defines rape culture this way: In a rape culture, people are surrounded with images, language, laws, and other everyday phenomena that validate and perpetuate, rape. Rape culture includes jokes, TV, music, advertising, legal jargon, laws, words and imagery, that make violence against women and sexual coercion seem so normal that people believe that rape is inevitable. Rather than viewing the culture of rape as a problem to change, people in a rape culture think about the persistence of rape as “just the way things are.”

I take very seriously, the problem of sexual violence, and find it abhorrent that even some of our laws are written in a way that casts blame on the victims. That “she was asking for it” is ever an acceptable response to rape, is disgusting. That not only men, but some women believe that we shouldn’t wear short skirts, because that only tempts men to rape us or exploit us, is insane. That’s going down another point that I’ll catch back up to later. The point for now, being that rape is one of, if not The most horrible crimes a person can commit upon another person, and it’s terrible that society as is stands, generally accepts inappropriate sexual advances as normal. That sexual violence of any kind is acceptable, is something we seriously need to change if we ever hope to be an evolved and enlightened society.

The FinallyFeminism101 blog defines slut shaming this way: Slut-shaming, also known as slut-bashing, is the idea of shaming and/or attacking a woman or a girl for being sexual, having one or more sexual partners, acknowledging sexual feelings, and/or acting on sexual feelings.

This concept is not new to me, Americans live in a society that was founded by Puritans. Women are socialized to be chaste virgins until they marry, and then be faithful to that man forever. Naming the problem slut shaming or bashing, seems to me, to only perpetuate the problem, but then, that’s a matter of linguistics, and focus. We are socialized to be ashamed of our sexuality, I am still fighting my way past that ingrown shame. And negative comments only make it all that much harder. But it’s once again a matter of being able to say fuck society, I am strong, and healthy and my desires are natural. This is not an easy thing to do, but we in the kink community do it all the time. This is just one more step, don’t make it harder for those around you, just because you’re jealous of their confidence or partners. And if you see others doing it, stand up for each other, show them how strong, confident and sexy we really are.

So, age of consent and statutory rape. The discussion Tuesday began with a relationship between a 17 year old boy and his 27 year old teacher. Obviously, a pairing that violates the ethical code of said teacher’s contract, and all the things that go along with it. In whatever state this was, the age of consent is 16, and the parents of the boy approved of the relationship. However, the teacher was still being charged with rape, among the other counts against her. It was the general consensus that some case-by-case common sense should be shown and the rape charged left out of the legal proceedings. The conversation then moved on to a discussion of the double standard that older teenaged boys don’t need protection against older women, but girls of the same age need protection from older men.

As I understand it, every state sets their own age of consent, to me, this is the first problem. As I said, I’m not big on politics, but it seems to me that a national standard would serve everyone better than a different standard every few hundred miles. Some common sense wouldn’t hurt in setting it either. High-schoolers having sex with each other, in many states could lead to a rape charge and that person will be stuck on the sex offenders registry. I’m not even going to pretend I have the answer, or the perfect age, or the right rules for this, but it just seems something we ought to be consistent about. And I think, once we figure out what age we are all comfortable with, consent should matter. Charge the teacher with breach of contract, take her license, whatever, but if the 17 year old is old enough to consent to sex with her, do Not charge her with rape. And, as a woman, who honestly feels that women biologically mature faster than men, let’s not have a double standard for consent. If a 16 year old boy can consent to sex, you better believe a 16 year old girl has the same ability. But girls need protected from predatory men? Then prosecute them for rape if she’s said no and he didn’t stop. Protect them from the predators, but not from their own freedom of choice.

On to the last bit, the wearing of sexy clothing and the objectification and exploitation of women by sexist men. Dude(tte), you need to get out more. A lot of women wear sexy clothing because they want to, because it makes them feel good. Because they enjoy receiving compliments from men who appreciate their beauty. None of this means that the woman is objectifying herself, or that the men giving the compliments are objectifying her. It is about feeling good about yourself, and loving yourself, and not being afraid to be who you are, if that’s a sexy girl in skin tight latex, or a stunning woman in a business suit. If you’re only being viewed as an object, you need to get new friends, get out in the community where the delicious mind is appreciated inside every body. The enjoyment of sexy clothes does not detract from the desire for intelligent conversation. Yes, there are sexist assholes in the community, too, they’re everywhere, but we don’t put up with them for as long as the general public. Deciding that women should wear long skirts so that men aren’t tempted, is sexist in both directions – repression of a woman’s choices and sexuality, and lack of faith in men.

Part of these conversations came out of discussion of women in the media, on tv, video games, movies and the like. And some of that is a problem, when the woman is only there to be pretty and do nothing else. To be the damsel in distress who must be rescued, because only men can do things in life. Yes, this is a problem, so don’t watch those shows, don’t go to those movies, don’t support those products. Watch the ones with strong female characters, buy the DVDs with the intelligent men and women working together to save the day. Buy the products that show women as powerful. But judging a show by how a character is dressed, and not by how she acts/is presented, is just sexist. Isn’t that what you accuse men of doing?

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Within Ourselves

June 10th, 2011

My academic pursuit this month, otherwise known as “I’m tired of packing project,” (unfortunately, yesterday, when I got tired, of packing I fell asleep instead of posting) is The Ethical Slut, by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt, which I posted about the first time I read it. This week, I read Part 1: Within Ourselves, and took down quotes I found pertinent or important to me. So, I thought I’d make this week’s post a discussion of those quotes. I divided them into five categories: Sex, Poly, Social Programming, Communication and Internal Struggles.

Let’s start with Social Programming. This group is about overcoming our social programming so we can live the life we want to live and be true to oneself. “Our programming is changeable.” “You are already whole.” “ Great sluts are made, not born.” “People… free of shame, would trust their own sense of right and wrong.” (pp. 6, 34, 59, 71) So, what do all these quotes mean to me?

I grew up in a religiously based household, taught ‘how things ought to be’ from a young age. One husband, one wife, kids, and pets. Sex inside marriage only. And no kinky stuff. So, the first quote, of programming being changeable. I don’t have to live with the programming my parents gave me. It worked for them, but it does not have to be mine as well. If it doesn’t work for me, then I can change it to fit myself. The third quote goes along with that. It takes work to overcome social programming, to make myself into what I want to be. I cannot just assume I have all the skills and understanding to live the way I want to live. I have to learn and grow and create my life.

The second quote. Being whole. Society likes to push marriage and kids onto us. You aren’t a grown up, until you’re married. You aren’t fulfilling your purpose until you have kids. And on and on. Not everyone wants to be married, not everyone wants to have kids. There is nothing wrong with either of these things. You are a whole person, in and of yourself, without the need for a relationship or offspring to validate your existence.

The final quote, came from Wilhelm Reich’s speeches to young Communists in Germany in 1936. He was speaking against free expression and sexuality, because this would prevent an authoritarian government. I think it is a good point, though. Without social programming telling us that what we feel is wrong and dirty, we would be free to trust our own judgment, our own selves, about what was good and right for us, and what was wrong. That would certainly reduce our unnecessary guilt and self-recriminations.

So, on that note, let’s move on to Internal Struggles, a lot of which come from Social Programming. “Each person owns her own feelings. No one ‘makes’ me feel jealous, or insecure – the person who makes me feel that way is me.” “Knowing, loving and respecting yourself is an absolute prerequisite to knowing, loving and respecting someone else.” “You must speak truth, first to yourself, then to those around you.” “Shame, and beliefs we were taught that our bodies, desires and sex are dirty and wrong, make it very hard to develop a healthy self-esteem.” “Do remember: your sexiness is about how you feel, not how you look.” (pp. 65, 67, 67, 93, 94)

To live this life, I have had to look inside me, to consider myself and my truth a lot more than I ever did before. I have to take responsibility for myself, my feelings, and my actions, something that in today’s society it seems to be more popular to blame others for. Yes, things people say or do upset me, but it is me choosing to react that way. Me choosing to let it bother me. Me choosing whether to talk to them about it, or brood silently. My choice to let negativity fester or toss it out into the light to die. To be in control of my emotions and my reactions, I have to know myself, love myself and respect myself enough to look for the truth in myself. I have to figure out what’s really going on inside me, so I can share it with those that matter.

A wonderful side effect of this lifestyle I have chosen, has been a much better body image and self-esteem. I grew up hiding my body, wearing baggy shirts and jeans year round. Boys hardly every looked at me before college, and I never gave them a reason to. One day in high school, my mother must have been having a bad day, because she told me I was fat. I took this to mean she thought I was ugly and unattractive. Just one stray comment and I held onto it for years. I didn’t believe that I weighed too much, but unattractive, absolutely.

Then I started dating, but I was still hiding in my clothes. Boys were interested in me, some told me I was attractive. But I didn’t believe them. I started having sex and doing kinky things. Boys didn’t run screaming from my body. That seemed like a good thing. My dad once told me I should get sexy underwear so I’d feel better about myself. That was strange. Dated some more, here and there and around the world. Still hiding. Got married, continued to hide, though I got cuter clothes from hubby and his mom. Other men were still attracted to me. That was strange to me. Why would they look at me? Talk to me sure, I’m bright and fun, but look at me?

We swung a bit and then became poly. We joined a few groups, and started going to events. I got more and more compliments, and people appreciating my body, my energy, my sexiness. I was encouraged to wear cuter (and shorter) outfits. I gained confidence in not just my body, but myself. The community is full of so many people of different body types, and people are attracted to them all. People are attracted to skin, to body parts, to men, to women, to everything and everyone. I learned that you don’t have to be perfect, or a certain size, shape, or height. You just have to comfortable and happy in your own skin. If you feel sexy(and sometimes even when you don’t), you are sexy.

Next, let’s explore Poly. “We tend to like our lives complicated, with lots of stuff going on to keep us interested and engaged.” “Is there some virtue in being difficult?” “The human capacity for sex and love and intimacy is far greater than most people think.” “What rewards can you foresee that will compensate you for doing the hard work of learning to be secure in a world of shifting relationships?” “I don’t have to fulfill every single thing my partner needs or wants.” “Faithfulness is about honoring your commitments and respecting your friends and lovers.” “You don’t have to force anyone into a mold that doesn’t fit: all you have to do is enjoy how you do fit together, and let go of the rest.” (pp. 7, 29, 36, 59, 59, 63, 73)

I’ll start at the top. Complicated lives. I’ve always kept busy. Band, theater, gaming, volunteering, writing, working, studying. My love life was often complicated, even before I came out as poly. I spent time with multiple guys, or with guys who had girlfriends elsewhere, or with different guys in different countries. I flirted online a lot, with men, women and couples. The first time hubby proposed to me, he was already engaged to someone else. I love order and organizing, but my life has always been fairly complicated. It’s not that I’m easy, I have standards, but I agree with Dossie and Catherine, why be intentionally difficult?

Our capacity for love and intimacy is huge. We love family, friends, lovers, pets, people we see on TV, even characters in books or shows. All in different ways, perhaps, but that’s a lot of love, and we always have more for new people coming into our lives. Why should romantic love be different? If everyone is honest and respectful, then, to me, everyone is being faithful. I always did like the song from Kiss Me, Kate with the chorus “Always true to you baby, in my fashion. I’m always true to you baby, in my way.”

Then we get to the rewards for all this learning and growing into the people we want to be. And the remaining two quotes answer that one. In poly, thanks to poly, I don’t have to try and be everything, and do everything, and fit into a mold of the “perfect partner.” I can be me, and they can be themselves, and we find out what needs we can fulfill for each other, and enjoy those things together.

This leads right into Communication, the most important thing, for me, in poly. “Consent – an active collaboration for the benefit, well-being and pleasure of all persons concerned.” “They may be shy in the seductive stages, and bolder once welcome has been secured. Women tend to want explicit permission, and for each specific act.” “Talk clearly and listen effectively.” “Being able to ask for and receive reassurance and support is extremely important.” “It’s vital to be able to give reassurance and support.” “Lots of hugging, touching, verbal affection, sincere flattery.” “You need to know how and when to say no.” “The historical censorship of discussion about sex has left us with another disability: the act of talking about sex… has become difficult and embarrassing.” “What you can’t talk about, you can hardly think about.” “Most of us have been struck dumb by the scariest communication task of all – asking for what we want.” “If you are not free to say ‘no,’ you can’t really say ‘yes.’” “You have a right to your limits and it is totally okay to say no to [anything] you don’t like or are not comfortable with.” (pp. 21-2, 49, 61, 61, 62, 62, 63, 95, 95, 101, 103, 106)

Several different subcategories here. Staring with general communication – being able to speak clearly as well as listen. I have learned, over the last few years, that what one person says and the other person hears, are not always the same thing. I have learned the importance of restating what I think the other person is trying to communicate, so he can agree, or try another way of explaining.

Being able to communicate needs and wants (as well as knowing the difference), and being able to hear the same from my partners has been vital to our relationships. I still have trouble taking about sex out loud, and am sometimes embarrassed to write about it. But we work together, and talk together, and we open with each other and I am more and more able to talk about it. It’s still not perfect, nothing ever is. But I am learning and growing, and overcoming the embarrassment and shame of my social programming.

Being able to ask for and receive reassurance and support, in any number of ways, can be hard. Why should I have doubts and need reassurance after all this time? Well, because I’m human, and imperfect and the little devil on my shoulder, or the little voice in my head gets too loud sometimes, and I need help shouting him down. And it has been very important to me, that my partners have been there to give me that. Even if all I need is a hug, or the words I love you, to calm me down, and even more so, when I’ve wanted a flogging or tight rope bondage.

Then there is consent. I like their definition: “an active collaboration for the benefit, well-being and pleasure of all persons concerned.” We want to have fun, be safe and healthy and work together for these things. Consent is for everyone, tops, bottoms, masters, slaves, doms, subs, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends. It is not just one person consenting to the other, it is both(or more) people consenting to each other. And being able to say no, is just as important as being able to say yes. You have to be able to say no, or yes doesn’t mean anything. There’s consensual non-consent, and there are no-limit slaves, but in the end, if you cannot ultimately turn and walk away, then you are not really consenting to be there.

On to happier topics – Sex. “Sex is nice and pleasure is good for you.” “We have never met anyone who has low self-esteem at the moment of orgasm.” “The existence of her clitoris was proof positive that God loved her.” “Sex is whatever the people engaging in it think it is… if you… feel sexual… that’s sex, for you.” “Sex is a healthy force in our lives.” “We like to think that all sensual stimulation is sexual, from a shared emotion to a shared orgasm.” “When sex becomes goal-oriented, we may focus on what gets us to orgasm to the exclusion of enjoying all the nifty sensations that come before (and, for that matter, after).” “Sexually successful people masturbate.” (pp. 4, 19, 27, 39. 40, 92, 96, 98)

We live in a culture of double standards. Sex sells – well, everything. But we are taught to avoid it, that it’s dangerous, that it’s only for marriage, that touching ourselves is disgusting. We are taught to be embarrassed by sexuality. But sex is wonderful, and it’s not just about intercourse, or orgasms. Being a kinky person, there are so many different ways that I find sensual and sexual pleasure. Being poly, hubby and I have a very strict definition of what sex is, in regards to our rules about who we can “have” it with. But that is about intercourse and sexual//reproductive health. We give and receive sensual and sexual stimulation with a lot of different people, in a lot of different ways, including our own selves. Intercourse is great, orgasms are great, but they are not the end all and be all of our sexual lives. We like things complicated, remember? I really enjoy the sex-positive nature of this book and the confidence it reminds me to have about myself and my desires in a culture that tells me I am wrong and disgusting in so many ways. I love my life, and I am happy with who I am.

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